Around the Watershed: News and Events

Shandaken-Allaben Local Flood Analysis Final Public Meeting Scheduled for Dec. 18

Posted on: December 13th, 2017 by Brent Gotsch

The Shan­daken Area Flood Assess­ment and Reme­di­a­tion Ini­tia­tive (SAFARI), a com­mit­tee work­ing under the direc­tion of the Shan­daken Town Board, invites every­one to attend a pub­lic meet­ing to see the results of the Shandaken-Allaben Local Flood Analy­sis (LFA). Through­out the year, SAFARI, the con­sult­ing firm Milone & MacB­room and other part­ner agen­cies have been inves­ti­gat­ing flood­ing issues in the ham­lets of Shan­daken and Allaben and will present their find­ings to the pub­lic at this meet­ing. Mit­i­ga­tion rec­om­men­da­tions will also be presented.

The meet­ing will take place on Mon­day, Decem­ber 18 at the Shan­daken Town Hall at 6:30pm. Atten­dees will have an oppor­tu­nity to ask ques­tions and to com­ment on the plan before a final draft is pre­sented to the Town Board early next year.

A copy of the report can be viewed on the Town of Shan­daken web­site.  To learn more about the LFA process a video from the first pub­lic meet­ing is also avail­able on the Town web­site.

Managing Flood Risk Workshop December 11

Posted on: December 4th, 2017 by Brent Gotsch

AWSMP and Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster County (CCEUC) Resource Edu­ca­tor Brent Gotsch in con­junc­tion with CCEUC Live­stock Edu­ca­tor Jason Det­zel will be be offer­ing a work­shop on flood­plain man­age­ment for live­stock and agri­cul­tural pro­duc­ers, or any­one with a flood­plain on their prop­erty. The work­shop will occur on Mon­day, Decem­ber 11 and run from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at the Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster County offices located at 232 Plaza Road in Kingston, NY.

It is free to attend but reg­is­tra­tion is required. Please con­tact Jason Det­zel at or call 845–340-3990 x327 to register.

The work­shop will help flood­plain prop­erty own­ers bet­ter under­stand their risk of flood­ing and how to read and inter­pret FEMA Flood Insur­ance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and Flood Insur­ance Stud­ies (FISs). Addi­tional top­ics to be cov­ered include:

  • The dif­fer­ent types of flood zones
  • How to iden­tify flood­way and flood fringe areas of a floodplain
  • How to com­pute the base flood ele­va­tion of the floodplain
  • What exactly is a “100-Year flood”
  • Com­puter and elec­tronic tools to help iden­tify flood haz­ard zones
  • Live­stock dis­as­ter information


If time per­mits there will also be a brief dis­cus­sion on flood insur­ance and how that applies to struc­tures in a mapped floodplain.

Bankfull in the Ashokan Watershed

Posted on: November 2nd, 2017 by Leslie_Zucker

On Sun­day, Octo­ber 29 after a steady and some­times heavy rain­fall, many streams in the water­shed filled their banks and were just about to spill onto their flood­plain. Stream man­agers call this flow the “bank­full dis­charge”. Let’s break that down! “Bank­full” is actu­ally an expres­sion of the channel’s shape, specif­i­cally its width and depth when the chan­nel is filled with water. “Dis­charge” is the vol­ume of water mov­ing down the stream at any given time. The typ­i­cal unit of mea­sure­ment for dis­charge is cubic feet per sec­ond. So “bank­full dis­charge” is the flow when the river is just about to spill onto its flood­plain. This flow typ­i­cally occurs every 1 to 2 years. The last wide­spread bank­full flow event hap­pened in Feb­ru­ary 2016.

The Woodland Valley Creek just past bankfull flow (discharge) on October 30, 2017. The peak of bankfull discharge occurred during the night of October 29 and couldn't be photographed!

The Wood­land Val­ley Creek just past bank­full flow (dis­charge) on Octo­ber 30, 2017. The peak of bank­full dis­charge occurred dur­ing the night of Octo­ber 29 and couldn’t be pho­tographed! Photo by Ulster SWCD.

Why do we care? Because bank­full is con­sid­ered the most effec­tive flow for mov­ing sed­i­ment, form­ing or remov­ing bars, form­ing or chang­ing bends and mean­ders, and gen­er­ally doing work that results in the shape of the chan­nel. If a chan­nel is nat­u­rally sta­ble, any changes caused by a bank­full dis­charge should be rel­a­tively mild. Most aquatic organ­isms, such as our native fish and aquatic insects are well-adapted to these changes, and may even ben­e­fit from them. In fact, look­ing for major changes after a bank­full dis­charge is one way stream man­agers know if a chan­nel is sta­ble or out of bal­ance with the sur­round­ing environment.

If you think you have an unsta­ble chan­nel on your prop­erty, con­tact the AWSMP office for a free site visit to review your options at (845) 688‑3047.

Floodproof Now to Protect Your Structure

Posted on: October 31st, 2017 by Brent Gotsch

The best way to pre­vent dam­age to struc­tures in a flood­plain is to not have them in the flood­plain at all. How­ever, that is not always pos­si­ble. To pro­tect struc­tures from flood­ing and obtain a reduc­tion in flood insur­ance pre­mi­ums, options are to ele­vate (for res­i­den­tial struc­tures) or flood­proof (for non-residential structures).

If you are inter­ested in ele­vat­ing or flood­proof­ing your struc­ture, the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency (FEMA) has sev­eral good resources avail­able that pro­vide guid­ance on how to do that. In most cases a con­trac­tor will need to be hired to do the actual work.

A great overview doc­u­ment on ele­va­tion, flood­proof­ing and sev­eral other mit­i­ga­tion alter­na­tives is FEMA’s Homeowner’s Guide to Retro­fitting (3rd Edi­tion).

There are other meth­ods to help pro­tect your struc­ture, but they may not result in lower insur­ance pre­mi­ums. How­ever, they can help to reduce dam­ages and are wor­thy of con­sid­er­a­tion for imple­men­ta­tion. The FEMA doc­u­ment “Reduc­ing Flood Risk to Res­i­den­tial Build­ings” is a good source of addi­tional infor­ma­tion on this topic.

Pro­tect­ing your struc­ture from flood dam­age can be a com­pli­cated and expen­sive process, but it is essen­tial to either reduce insur­ance pre­mi­ums and/or pro­tect prop­erty from flood dam­age. Use the resources above as a first step in planning.

Smart Rocks Deployed!

Posted on: October 13th, 2017 by Leslie_Zucker

The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram and the NYC Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion are work­ing with the U.S. Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey to study the rate at which larger rocks and cob­ble move down stream chan­nels. Fine sus­pended sed­i­ments travel with stream flows and pose the great­est threat to water qual­ity in the upper Eso­pus Creek. But larger mate­r­ial rest­ing on the chan­nel bed is also sus­pended dur­ing stream flows and then rede­posited down­stream. Streams in equi­lib­rium with their sur­round­ing land­scape accom­plish sed­i­ment trans­port in an orderly fash­ion. Rocks and cob­ble on the stream bed are lifted from their loca­tions in rif­fles and rede­posited down­stream in another shal­low area where rif­fles form. It’s when the chan­nel is dis­turbed or thrown out of bal­ance that the process can go awry. Large sed­i­ment accu­mu­la­tions in the cen­ter of the chan­nel, like those deposited dur­ing Trop­i­cal Storm Irene for exam­ple, can split stream flows and push water against the banks. The banks may con­tain fine sed­i­ments that cloud drink­ing water or gen­er­ate more coarse mate­r­ial that blocks bridges down­stream. For this rea­son stream man­agers would like to know more about the coarse sed­i­ment — when and where it moves, to bet­ter main­tain stream chan­nel stability.

The large sed­i­ment, rocks and cob­ble, trav­el­ing down the chan­nel bed is called “bed load.“
The AWSMP is part­ner­ing with the USGS to test dif­fer­ent tech­niques for mon­i­tor­ing the amount and rate of bed­load move­ment. Bed load mon­i­tor­ing is dif­fi­cult, time inten­sive and expense to pull off. Sev­eral tech­niques being piloted are meant to save time and make the effort more manageable.

The USGS has installed hydrophones at two bridges in the water­shed. The hydrophones are trig­gered when flows rise and record the sounds rocks make hit­ting against each other as tur­bu­lent water car­ries them down­stream. USGS sci­en­tists will parse the data and check it against phys­i­cal sam­ples taken at the bridges at the same time to see if a sound sig­na­ture can be used to quan­tify the sed­i­ment being transported.

RFID Tag on Smart Rock

An RFID-tag was drilled and glued into this rock pulled from the stream chan­nel to allow for radio-tracking later.

A sec­ond approach is to embed RFID (radio-frequency iden­ti­fi­ca­tion device) tags into native rock mate­r­ial and then find these rocks later using a hand-held antenna dur­ing sweeps of the chan­nel after bed-load mov­ing storm events. Another “smart” way to track rocks is to put an accelerom­e­ter into pre-manufactured rocks along with the RFID tags to gather the rate at which rocks move.

Finally, USGS staff will deploy staff to cap­ture sed­i­ment as it flows under the bridges. The bed­load sam­plers are low­ered from the bridge to the chan­nel bed and fill with sed­i­ment that is dumped into buck­ets and later sorted and mea­sured. Sam­pling con­tin­ues as long as prac­ti­cal until stream flows recede!

Bed Load Sampler

USGS sci­en­tist Jason Siemion low­ers the bed load sam­pler from a bridge.

The entire effort depends on hav­ing stream flows strong enough to move most of the sed­i­ment lying on the chan­nel bed. Sur­pris­ingly, almost the entire stream bed moves dur­ing flow events that occur as fre­quently as every sev­eral years on aver­age. And at least some of the bed load moves dur­ing smaller events. The project team is hop­ing for just enough rain to cause bed-load move­ment but not enough to cause any damage!

The study will run through 2019 with results to follow.

AWSMP Tries Out the W.A.V.E.

Posted on: September 29th, 2017 by Samantha Kahl

The impor­tance of water qual­ity has always been a top pri­or­ity for water­shed res­i­dents and the stream man­age­ment pro­gram as it works with com­mu­ni­ties to man­age streams. So how do we mea­sure the effects of stream man­age­ment on water qual­ity? One method is macroin­ver­te­brate sam­pling. Macroin­ver­te­brates are insects present within our streams that are vis­i­ble to the naked eye: Stone­flies, Mayflies, and Cad­dis­flies, just to name a few!

Recently, AWSMP staff mem­bers Saman­tha Kahl with Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster County, and Alli­son Lent, Stream Assess­ment Coor­di­na­tor, and Tiffany Runge, Water­shed Tech­ni­cian with Ulster County Soil and Water Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict (SWCD) got out­side to mon­i­tor aquatic insects and do the WAVE! Actu­ally, it’s W.A.V.E. — Water Assess­ments by Vol­un­teer Eval­u­a­tors. This pro­gram is run by the New York State Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion (DEC). Vol­un­teers are trained to take macroin­ver­te­brate sam­ples from streams for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion at the DEC office. This prac­tice helps deter­mine stream seg­ments that are poten­tially impaired (e.g. pol­luted or dis­turbed). Macroin­ver­te­brates are sen­si­tive to water qual­ity, so if pollution-tolerant species are present and oth­ers are not, we may have an impaired stream seg­ment that needs fur­ther mon­i­tor­ing. If a vari­ety of sen­si­tive species are abun­dant, it’s usu­ally a good indi­ca­tor for high water quality.

Case-making Caddisfly larva found attached to a rock in a segment of Woodland Creek.

Case-making Cad­dis­fly larva found attached to a rock in a seg­ment of Wood­land Val­ley Creek.

Our pur­pose of going into the field was to get a sense of the water qual­ity at a poten­tial Wood­land Val­ley Creek restora­tion site. Know­ing the water con­di­tions prior to restora­tion pro­vides a bet­ter sense of how restora­tion efforts affect the stream, allow­ing project man­agers to mit­i­gate future restora­tion projects if need be. Our pur­pose also included test­ing out W.A.V.E. pro­gram sam­pling meth­ods. The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram is inter­ested in start­ing a W.A.V.E. pro­gram for local com­mu­ni­ties to take part in. Feel free to fill out this short sur­vey regard­ing your avail­abil­ity for a poten­tial W.A.V.E. pro­gram start-up; any feed­back is appre­ci­ated! And don’t for­get to check back soon for more event and vol­un­teer infor­ma­tion at our web­site.

Tiffany Runge, Watershed Technician (left), and Allison Lent, Stream Assessment Coordinator (right), of the Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District sorting through leaf litter for macroinvertebrate sampling on the banks of Woodland Creek.

Ulster County SWCD’s Tiffany Runge (left) and Alli­son Lent (right) sort through leaf lit­ter look­ing for macroin­ver­te­brates on the banks of Wood­land Val­ley Creek.

Stream Management Funding Available

Posted on: September 18th, 2017 by Leslie_Zucker

The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram is accept­ing appli­ca­tions for stream man­age­ment projects in the Ashokan watershed. 

Fund­ing pri­or­i­ties include projects to:
– Improve water qual­ity and enhance stream sta­bil­ity;
– Pro­tect or improve stream infra­struc­ture;
– Enhance stream access and recre­ation;
– Plan and imple­ment flood haz­ard mit­i­ga­tion; and
– Increase pub­lic knowl­edge and skills for stream stewardship.

Research and mon­i­tor­ing projects will be funded through a sep­a­rate request for pro­pos­als in Novem­ber 2017.

Eli­gi­ble appli­cants include local, county, state or fed­eral gov­ern­ment agen­cies; 501©3 orga­ni­za­tions; and sec­ondary school dis­tricts, col­leges, or uni­ver­si­ties. For-profit activ­i­ties are not eli­gi­ble for fund­ing at this time.

Appli­ca­tions must be sub­mit­ted to the pro­gram office by 4:30pm, Fri­day, Octo­ber 13, 2017. For appli­ca­tion mate­ri­als, visit the web­site

Fund­ing for the Stream Man­age­ment Imple­men­ta­tion Pro­gram is pro­vided by the NYC Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion and admin­is­tered by Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster County.  

For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact AWSMP at (845) 688‑3047.

Mink Hollow Stream Restoration Projects Near Completion

Posted on: September 15th, 2017 by Leslie_Zucker

Two stream restora­tion projects treat­ing over 2,000 feet of erod­ing stream chan­nel and two large hill­slopes are near­ing com­ple­tion in the Mink Hol­low sec­tion of the Beaver Kill stream in the Town of Wood­stock. The projects should end in early Sep­tem­ber. See pho­tos of the projects below.

The two adja­cent projects are over­seen by the Ulster County Soil and Water Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict (SWCD). Ever­green Moun­tain Con­tract­ing, Inc. is con­struct­ing the projects with site inspec­tion pro­vided by Milone & MacB­room, Inc. (MMI), both are under con­tract with SWCD. The projects are funded by the NYC Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Protection.

Work­ing under per­mits issued by the NYSDEC, US Army Corps of Engi­neers, and the NYC DEP, water is diverted around the project sites so that sed­i­ment is not released down­stream dur­ing construction.


Stream flows are pumped into a pipe located upstream of con­struc­tion and diverted around the project sites. The water is released back into the Beaver Kill below the sites.

Re-Graded Hillslope

One of two erod­ing hill­slopes was regraded and a y-shaped sur­face drain installed. The slope has been seeded with a native plant mix. The green color is the mulch applied to the seeded area.

Bank Excavation

Con­struc­tion con­trac­tor Ever­green Moun­tain Con­tract­ing, Inc. exca­vated a bank to install a log rock revet­ment. About 24 loads of soil were removed to a nearby quarry dur­ing the morn­ing we visited.

The log rock revet­ment will pro­tect the stream­bank from ero­sion until roots from replanted native veg­e­ta­tion grow and add addi­tional resistance.


Site Managers

Here Adam Doan, Project Man­ager for the Ulster County SWCD and Christo­pher Barto, Civil Engi­neer with MMI review the project design plans on-site.

Ash Tree Species Face Extinction

Posted on: September 15th, 2017 by Leslie_Zucker

North America’s most wide­spread and valu­able ash tree species are on the brink of extinc­tion due to the inva­sive bee­tle Emer­ald Ash Borer dec­i­mat­ing their pop­u­la­tions. Five of the six most promi­nent ash tree species in North Amer­ica were added to the IUCN Red List as Crit­i­cally Endan­gered – only one step from going extinct – with the sixth species assessed as Endan­gered. One of the species, the once-plentiful White Ash (Frax­i­nus amer­i­cana) is a canopy species found in flood­plain forests of the Ashokan water­shed. Another species on the list – Green Ash (Frax­i­nus penn­syl­van­ica) is also found in the watershed’s Hemlock-Northern Hard­wood forests accord­ing to a 2012 sur­vey by the NY Nat­ural Her­itage Program.

The AWSMP can help stream­side landown­ers with select­ing native species to replace dead or dying ash trees in stream­side areas. Call the Catskill Streams Buffer Ini­tia­tive at (845) 688‑3047 x6 for advise and assistance.

For more infor­ma­tion on the biol­ogy of the Emer­ald Ash Borer and local efforts to pro­tect impor­tant ash stands, see this video pre­sen­ta­tion at the Ashokan Water­shed Con­fer­ence or these help­ful online resources:

Check the New York State Inva­sive Species EAB page at:

Some of the most help­ful guides include:


Hurricane and Flood Preparedness

Posted on: September 7th, 2017 by Brent Gotsch

Hur­ri­cane Irma is likely to be one of the most pow­er­ful storms ever recorded and is cur­rently on track to make land­fall in the state of Florida this week­end. At this point it is unclear whether this storm will con­tinue on with the same strength or inten­sity and make its way to the North­east. Now is a good time to make prepa­ra­tions in case the storm does reach our water­shed. A good first step to pre­pare for poten­tial flood­ing is review AWSMP’s Flood Pre­pared­ness Guide and guides from emer­gency man­age­ment agen­cies like FEMA.

It may also be use­ful to know if you are in a mapped flood haz­ard zone. You can do this by view­ing paper Flood Insur­ance Rate Maps at your local Town Hall (also avail­able for down­load from the FEMA Map Ser­vice Cen­ter) or by view­ing an inter­ac­tive ver­sion on the National Flood Haz­ard Layer or the Ulster County Par­cel Viewer. Now would also be a good time to stock up extra sup­plies of food, water, and med­i­cine in case there are dis­rup­tions in deliv­ery of such items. In addi­tion, the NY Exten­sion Dis­as­ter Edu­ca­tion Net­work (NY EDEN) has exten­sive infor­ma­tion on how to pre­pare for flood­ing, hur­ri­canes and other emer­gen­cies. By being informed and pre­pared we can all be more resilient in the face of nat­ural disasters.